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Then, I watched this video and started feeling better.

Billy Gillispie

@ UTEP

First season (2002-2003): 6-24.  Still able to recruit a Top 25 class.

Second season (2003-2004): 24-8.  Beat the Harlem Globetrotters in a preseason game, their first defeat in 289 games.  Won their first conference title in 12 years.  Received a bid to the NCAA tournament.  One-season turnaround was the best in Division I basketball, one of the best in college basketball history.  First in the NCAA in increased attendance.  Texas Coach of the Year.  Finalist for National Coach of the Year.

@ Texas A&M

2004-2005: 21-10, a 14-game improvement from the previous season.  Third ever team to finish .500 or above in the conference after previously losing all conference games.  Received a bid to the NIT, their first postseason appearance in 11 years.  Won 2 NIT games, the first postseason wins in 23 years for A&M.  Best first-season record of any coach at Texas A&M.  Coached the nation’s most improved team an unprecedented two consecutive years.  Named Big 12 Coach of the Year.

2005-2006: 22-9. Broke a school-record streak of twenty-five years without appearing in the polls.  Best finish for Texas A&M since the formation of the Big 12.  Recieved a bid to the NCAA tournament, upsetting 5 seed Syracuse in the first round.  Named Big 12 Coach of the Year by several newspapers.

2006-2007: 27-7.  Became first team in Big 12 South history to beat Kansas at Kansas.  Ended regular season ranked #7 in the AP poll and #6 in the Coaches’ Poll.  Set school record for consecutive weeks in Top 25.  Reached the Sweet 16.  Named Big 12 Coach of the Year.

@ Kentucky

2007-2008: 18-13.  Kentucky started the season 7-9, dealing with injuries to Joe Crawford, Jodie Meeks, Ramon Harris, Perry Stevenson, Derrick Jasper and Jared Carter, as well as the transfer of Alex Legion.  The Cats went on to win 9 of the next 10, rallying to a 12-4 SEC record and reaching the NCAA tournament for a 17th straight time, despite the late season-ending injury to Patrick Patterson.  Named SEC Co-Coach of the Year.

2008-2009: Lost Joe Crawford, Ramel Bradley, Derrick Jasper, Alex Legion, Mark Coury, Morakinyo Williams, and Dusty Mills.  Newcomers include DeAndre Liggins, Kevin Galloway, Darius Miller, Josh Harrelson, Matt Pilgrim (sitting out this season as a transfer), Donald Williams, Jarvis Walker, Mark Halsell, Adam Delph, and Landon Slone.

Will the Gillispie turnaround trend continue?  My prediction (Nov 3, 2008): Kentucky will make at least the Sweet 16 this year.  It gets started tonight with the first exhibition against Missouri-St. Louis.

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That was also a good one…

rbradleyflex.jpg

Man, Billy Gillispie is awesome. He has taken Kentucky from a soft, confused, injury-riddled group and turned them into a tough, smart(er), and still hurting but slowly getting more healthy, scrapping team.  He’s done it without compromising any of his coaching principles, even when the pressure on him was intense.  He believes in outworking every team on the schedule and playing as hard as you possibly can for 40 (or 50, if you have to–Vandy) minutes…not 39, not 38.  He believes in get-up-in-your-jersey man-to-man defense the entire game.  And he hasn’t changed any of that from Day 1, even when it would have been easier and gotten some people off his back if he did so.  Billy has a long-term plan for the team, and he won’t waver from it (sounds like another current UK coach, Rich Brooks…look where the Kentucky football team is now).

It was looking ugly earlier in the season with losses to Gardner-Webb and San Diego at home. After the win over #5 Tennessee last night, the future for this season is much brighter. Now, the Cats defend Rupp Arena like their lives depend on it. And I love it.

Anytime you can make Bruce Pearl sad, it’s a good thing.catswinwin.jpg

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